Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wildstar Going F2P Soon

This Autumn, actually, according to Massively OP.

The real question for me is whether they waited too long to go F2P and save the franchise. That, I'm not sure of, but I'd be more than willing to check it out again when it does.



SWTOR was almost too late in its timing, but Bioware was able to staunch the bleeding and actually bring the game back from the brink. Now, I'd say that SWTOR is steadily thriving; it has found its player base, built its brand, and is adding new content on a regular basis.

Star Trek Online followed a similar trajectory but without the EA brand name behind it. Same with Rift and LOTRO. So, it can be done, and more importantly HAS been done before.

Good luck, Wildstar. I think you're going to need it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I Knew This Day Would Come... Eventually

The other day I was printing out some documentation* when my son spoke up.

He was somewhere deep in the bowels of the Dune Sea on Tatooine --if you've played the planetary story there for SWTOR, you know exactly what I'm talking about-- and apparently something had occurred to him.

Turning to his older sister, he said, "Say, what level is your Jedi Knight?"

"The one on the shared account is in Alderaan," she replied, "but my new one on my own account is only on Coruscant."

"Oh," he said, deflating a little. "I was wondering if you'd do a group quest with me."

My ears perked up. I knew what was coming next.

"How long do you think it'd be before you got your Knight to Tatooine?"

"Really? I've got all this homework to do and you want to know when I can get on the game?"

"Oh, okay." He swiveled his head around until he saw his younger sister on the couch, reading with her headphones on. "Hey," he called to her, "what's your Smuggler's level at?"

"Um, about 14," she replied.

"Oh man. I guess I'll have to wait."

Hello, I thought. I'm right here!

"Dad..." he began.

Finally!

"...I noticed that the free account's XP rewards really cut down after L20. It's taking me longer to level up than I expected."

He then turned back to the screen and kept playing.

I blinked twice. That's it? No 'can you help me out, Dad?'

"You know, I could help you out with some heroics."

He kept playing. "Um...." he said, drawing it out. "Okay, I guess."

***

Apparently, the older two decided to visit the younger one while she was working on her Consular on Tython.

Without telling her, naturally.

So, they snuck up behind her and kept following her around. She was so focused on the story, she didn't even notice them there for 15 minutes.

Then, hilarity ensued.

"What are you--"

"HA!! YOU DIDN'T SEE US!!"

"I was jumping around and saying 'Hi!' all this time!!"

"I didn't SEE you at all! How long have you been there!"

"Forever!!"

Ah, Fridays.





*Paperless office, my ass. I've printed out more documents for work these past few years than I'd done in the decade before it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Leeroy

The infamous Leeroy Jenkins Upper Blackrock Spire YouTube video is 10 years old.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Passing the Hat

I occasionally will mention a crowdfunding campaign that is relevant to gaming and/or gamers, and I figured I ought to catch up and post a few notices so that the people behind them can get some extra visibility.

***

The title from the FDWL website, fromdraenor.com.

From the minds (and pens) of WoW bloggers Rades (Mike Eng) and Vidyala (Stacey Landry)* is their webcomic From Draenor with Love. Originally it started off as snarky/fun one shot comics (such as the one poking fun at everyone who wanted to transmog into a certain Paladin Tier set), but has since evolved into an ongoing story which includes Vid, Rades, the Black Prince, Four (an Ogre), and assorted minor characters.

The storyline is a bit complicated, but some of the recent episodes involving Vid meeting her mother have really landed some huge emotional punches. I honestly don't know if I could write those scenes, but Vid's artwork really captured the complexity and heartbreak of the story arc to an incredible degree.

From Draenor With Love has its own Patreon site to cover materials and web hosting costs.

***

If you've ever gone to a con, you've run into cosplayers. Hell, you can even find them participating in parades, such as the 501st has done at the Tournament of Roses Parade.

But what about the history of cosplay? Where did it come from, and how did it explode into the public eye?

While filming the documentary She Makes Comics, Respect Films talked to a lot of people about the rise of costuming in the 70s. After the release of She Makes Comics, they talked to even more people, found a lot of interest, and decided to make a documentary on the subject of cosplay.



And here is their Indiegogo link:




***

On the lighthearted end of things are Leigh Lahav's YouTube videos, like, say this one (about Doctor Who):



Under the moniker of OnlyLeigh, she's been posting on YouTube about Fangirl topics for almost two years now.

She also has a Patreon site, and created this video to explain her reasoning behind it:







*They get equal billing, but I went alphabetical here.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

In Memoriam

Transgender game developer Rachel Bryk committed suicide the other day after a steady stream of online harassment.

I wish I could write something uplifting about this, but I can't. Not after what happened to Leela Alcorn locally.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Explain to me again how watching sports gets you fitter

The broadcast of Heroes of the Dorm on ESPN2 has been generating a bit of controversy.

You'd think that eSports wouldn't generate that much heat, given that the finals were at 9:30 on a Sunday night on ESPN2. Most NBA games were over for the day --Sunday games tend to be shown earlier in the day than on Saturday-- and MLB was on regular ESPN. Without college basketball and the NBA regular season, there's a whole lot of "not much" on Sunday nights on ESPN2.*

But of course, some people had to bitch.


You don't have to watch to get the gist of it. ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd doesn't like eSports, and he wants you to know that ESPN made a mistake (saying it mildly) by putting Heroes of the Dorm on ESPN2.  Sportsgrid and The Mary Sue both have their own take on Cowherd's rant, but both boil down to the same thing: ESPN also broadcasts the National Spelling Bee, poker games, and eating contests, so saying eSports have no place on ESPN is pretty silly.

Now, the question about whether eSports are "real sports" is quite another thing.

There are games that qualify as sports that make me raise my eyebrows. Bowling, for starters. Golf, for another.** While both are competitive, you don't see people get fit playing either sport. You could make an argument about golf, but the way most people play the game now (using carts) any fitness gained from walking 18 holes has pretty much evaporated.

And auto racing.... Let's not go there.

George Carlin's 1986 clip on sports.
I don't think I need to tell you that he's a bit profane,
and that he says a few things that are more offensive now than
back then.



All of the so-called sports I listed above are tests of skill, but they won't get you fit.

My personal definition of something that is a sport is that it is an athletic physical activity/game that will provide good exercise. Handball, tennis, running, and basketball are all sports. Golf, auto racing, bowling are not.

eSports are not sports by my definition.

That said, eSports are definitely tests of physical skill, just not enough to give you a good workout. If that were the case, my "work" of sitting around and typing at the keyboard all day would qualify as "exercise".*** eSports fall under those other so-called sports (golf, etc.) in that they are all tests of physical skill, but eSports also veer into mental skill territory found with other games (spelling bee, chess, poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc.) that have big championships.

eSports are at that intersection between physical and mental skill that, for some reason, make some people uneasy. Probably because they remember goofing around playing video games and saying "Wouldn't it be cool if you could make money PLAYING these things?" But the reality is, this sort of level of competition turns the game itself into work. LoL teams like Fnatic pretty much work at the game all day, almost every day, and the level of skill involved almost guarantees both burnout and a drop in skill level once pro eSports players hit their mid-late 20s. If you thought the burnout level at the progression raiding guilds was high, you ain't seen nothing yet.

But.

Playing a game (or a sport) isn't the same as watching it.

When you hear people gripe about eSports not belonging on ESPN  because "they're not real sports", my initial response is "What does it matter to you?" After all, does watching basketball make me fit?

Hell no.

It's just people's biases kicking in, and they don't like the fact that video games require a skill that they (likely) don't have. If Colin Cowherd was good enough at LoL, do you think that he'd turn down a boatload of cash to play the game in a pro league?

Again, hell no.

Would ESPN be silly to turn down a chance to get in on the ground floor of something that could become a huge entertainment franchise?

Hell yes.

I'm not a big fan of ESPN, but they've got the right of it this time.





*NHL Hockey is on NBC and NBCSN, the NFL (in the fall) has Sunday night games on NBC, and the European soccer/football league games are long over by the time US prime time rolls around.

**For the record: my grandparents were avid bowlers and loved-loved-loved watching PBA King of Bowling on television back in the 70s/80s/90s; my father is a true golf nut to the point where he used to hit the links with snow on the ground if the weather was warm enough. I grew up watching him putt on the family room in the evenings.

***On second thought, I'd rather not give somebody the idea that maybe I could get exercise by coding. That's kind of a depressing concept.


EtA: Clarified that my dad used to play golf while snow was on the ground.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hello, Old Friend

For some reason, I only have altoholic tendencies on SWTOR.

I couldn't explain why, because outside of the class stories there's no real difference in wanting to create multiple alts on SWTOR versus any other MMO. When I played WoW I played a toon on each faction for a while in Cata, but in general I kept to a single specific toon each expac. I never considered that a true alt, as I simply switched my main to a brand new toon with a different class.

On other MMOs, I haven't created more than one or two toons total.

But with SWTOR I've created somewhere around 14 toons, and 7 of them are at least L50.*

Maybe it's just an extension of what I do with WoW, but compressed into an L1-L50 story. And with WoW, of course, you had only two main story arcs --one for each faction-- with the occasional class story thrown in for good measure. Since SWTOR doesn't have major expacs the same size as WoW's (or LOTRO's for that matter), I can't use the "2 Year Plan" as a cutoff to trying out a new toon. Viewed from that perspective, reaching the end of the original class story and starting up a new toon makes a bit of sense.

But.

In much the same way that I found the pre-Cata Vanilla and BC areas of WoW fascinating, I really enjoy poking around the L1-L50 areas in SWTOR. It's not limited to trying out the different class stories, as I've created at least three smugglers and three counselors. Sure, the light/dark/neutral choices when interacting with a quest giver give the game a bit of replayability, but I'm kind of (in)famous for playing more as myself instead of trying different options for curiosity's sake.

Even as a 'nice person' Sith?  Yep.

Andronikos was just off screen. He was busy saying
something about how he didn't want to go into slaving
as he'd learned from watching me that some slaves are mean...

I've not played Sreeka in, well, ages. I logged in with her briefly to acquire the initial quest for the Forged Alliances story, but as I was busy with my Bounty Hunter at the time I never did anything more. Before that, hmm.... That would have been at least a year ago, when I finished up the Makeb story back in January 2014 and worked my way through the Dread Masters questline shortly after.

She's still a loyal member of the Empire and technically in an alliance with Darth Marr, but she still forges her own (light side) path.

But boy, have her abilities been tweaked.

I had to essentially rebuild my UI from scratch and relearn how to play the proverbial glass cannon, all within the scope of the Forged Alliances solo flashpoints. Well, I'd completely forgotten about some little things --like Static Barrier-- until several hours in, but I only died once.  (I think.)**

It was good to see Sreeka in action again. And her voice, that dark, throaty, sultry voice that promised both electrocution and entertainment and arrogance in one fell swoop... I'd missed that.

Xanthe Elbrick does a great job as
the voice actor for the female Sith Inquisitor


Welcome back, Dark Lord.





*There are two Smugglers who have completed the original class story, but the others are separate classes. I haven't completed the Knight or the Agent, either.

**For a DPS Sorcerer, Static Barrier is more than "just" a little thing; it can often be the difference between life and death. I was reminded of that once I reached Rishi.